First Quarter Results: Wide Disparities by County for Drug-Related Welfare Cash Denials


Taxpayers Saved $30 for Every $1 Spent on Test Reimbursements

NAPLES, FLORIDA – The rates of drug-related denials for welfare cash vary widely between Florida counties, while the new drug testing requirement state-wide continues to achieve major taxpayer savings, according to a first quarter analysis of the program published today by the Foundation for Government Accountability (FGA).

The analysis, Florida’s Drug Test Law for Welfare Cash Assistance: First Quarter Facts, authored by FGA President and Chief Executive Officer Tarren Bragdon reports that the state has an overall drug-related denial rate of 19 percent in the first quarter. Mainly as a result of these substantial drug-related denials, the state experienced a 48 percent drop in monthly welfare cash approvals since the testing requirement began. With a savings of approximately $1,125 for every drug-related denial, taxpayers saved an estimated $1.8 million during the first quarter alone.

Also, 28 percent of applicants who tested negative for drug use applied for reimbursement of drug testing fees, costing the state $58,000. The report found that for every $1.00 the state spent reimbursing negative drug test results, taxpayers saved $30.64, indicating a significant return on investment.

“Our drug testing requirement to receive welfare cash is achieving tremendous savings for Florida taxpayers,” Bragdon said. “More importantly, this requirement ensures welfare cash will not be used to subsidize an illegal drug habit, and will be reserved only for those drug-free and accountable individuals in need of a temporary hand up.”

FGA’s paper also examines county-level drug-related denial reporting during the program’s first quarter. The results show wide and dramatic variances in drug-related denial rates by county. 11 of Florida’s 67 counties had a denial rate of 33 percent or higher for otherwise eligible applicants during the program’s first months. Ten counties had no drug-related denials, meaning all welfare cash applicants tested negative
for drug use. Interestingly, counties with no drug-testing sites have among the lowest rates of drug-related denials. Population and geography
do not seem to be an indicator of drug-related denials either.

“County-level reporting reveal that drug-related denials rates do not seem to correlate population, geography, or even number of drug testing sites,” Bragdon said. “What we do know is that Florida’s drug testing requirement for welfare cash is saving taxpayers money and preserving
precious dollars to maintain a critical safety net for those in need. Other states should look to Florida as a model to help achieve compassionate,
accountable welfare reform.”